The single most essential component to bicycle touring is the bike. If you are just testing the waters, it’s okay to use whatever bike you currently ride. Although, some bikes may not be very practical you can tour on nearly any bicycle. If you are looking for the long haul (pun intended) and comfort, then you should consider looking for touring specific bikes. Visit our Bicycles page.
After the bike, the saddle is the next major component. Because you’ll be on your ass the entire time you are cycling, it’s best to think about the comfort of your saddle. There is nothing worse than getting saddle sores in the middle of a tour and being forced to continue riding with them so you don’t miss your flight home or you have a specific amount of time to tour. I 110% recommend the Brooks C-17 because there is no break in time, its weather proof, and the natural flex means it will adjust to your sit bones the first time you use it. Visit our Saddles page.
3. POWER. Having a dependable source of power is monumental especially if you are frequently using cameras, a phone, lights, or gps. You can go solar or use a hub to generate energy. I have been using the Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit for about 2 years now. You can also check out Shimano’s Nexus Dynamo hub.
4. WATER. We depend on water for life, so it’s no wonder water made the essentials list. Lets focus on water storage and filtration. Most touring bikes come with three locations for water bottle mounts: seat tube, top side of down tube, and the under side of the down tube. Use zip ties or unused eye let mounts for excess storage. Some frame bags like the Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag allow you to store a water bladder.
Katadyn is a leading manufacturer when it comes to water filtration systems. They offer a variety of sizes, systems, and methods for filtering water. You may need filtration if your tour is primarily remote or the country you are visiting doesn’t have the most trustworthy tap water.
Don’t sell yourself short when selecting a bag. It might be worth spending an extra few dollars for better quality. Look for durable and weatherproof materials. Take a glance at our Bags page for detailed reviews and price comparisons of a variety of bags.
6. MAPS. American Cycling Association, Bikepacking.com and MTB Project have done phenomenal jobs at mapping U.S. routes. A good map will include elevation/topography, cities, towns, food, and water sources. Check out my Books page to find content, maps, and more info on international tours or specific routes.
7. TOOLS. Unless you send your bike to a shop and have a personal pit crew following you, it would be a great idea to have some tools. For touring, I look for multi-tools that are compact, features a variety of Allen keys, screw drivers, chain-breakers, and spoke wrenches. Check out all the multi tools here.
Tyler Lung once told me the most essential piece of touring equipment is socks. Having dry tent socks at the end of the day was the most important part of his gear catalog. I can’t disagree on the importance of socks or the refreshing feeling that comes with putting on a pair of dry clean socks at the end of a hard days ride. Check out socks.
9. CLOTHING. Clothing types will vary based off the climate and season of your routing. Look for moisture wicking tops, pack-able insulation layers, and don’t forget those shammies! I personally prefer shammies under hiking pants that zip off to shorts. A pair of zip offs will allow you to have shorts and pants without having to pack both.
10. MENTALITY. You’re traveling on a bicycle! Take that in for a moment. Optimism is key to having a successful tour. Remember, mechanical failures aren’t the end of the world. Traveling via bike is the best way to see a place. Meet the locals, soak in the culture, stop when you see a stellar view, take time to relax, and enjoy the ride.